By Stacey Whyte
Manager of Media Relations
Mention The Masters and most people will automatically think of Bobby Jones. It is true that the charismatic golfer was an integral part of establishing the reputation of The Masters and Augusta National Golf Club. But while Jones got most of the credit, a man by the name of Clifford Roberts did most of the work in molding The Masters as the best-run tournament in the world.
Roberts was a Wall Street financier who traveled to Augusta in the 1920s with friends on vacation. At the same time, Jones would travel from Atlanta to play golf, and the two struck up a friendship that would lead to the building of one of America’s most famous golf courses. It was Roberts’ idea to form a club. It was his decision that no more than 30 people from the Augusta area would be allowed to join the club. Roberts and Jones decided upon Alister Mackenzie as the course architect, and together they purchased a 365-acre, pre-Civil War indigo plantation that had been turned into Berckmann’s Nursery and made it into a golfing landmark.
While Jones was personable and well loved, Roberts was reserved and enigmatic. He hardly spoke on a subject more than he had to, and rarely granted special favors in regard to the tournament, no matter who was asking. But it was this unbending manner that made The Masters such an efficient operation, especially after Roberts took total control of the club and tournament when Jones fell ill.
Roberts instituted gallery roping, pairings sheets, course maps, stadium mounding and an elaborate scoring and leaderboard operation. These innovations helped cement The Masters as golf’s most prestigious tournament and are commonplace at golfing events today. According to Jack Nicklaus, “the standards and quality with which he conducted The Masters are unmatched anywhere.”
For his accomplishments as co-founder of Augusta National Golf Club and chairman of The Masters, Roberts was posthumously inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1978 after passing Sept. 6, 1977, at the age of 84.